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Is A Physically Present Spiritual Master Required?

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I have a question :


in India, in a particular town, during a restless mood of mind in the evening in my room, unable to chant long mantra's (even the Hare Krishna mantra), a deep penetrating and clear voice entered my mind from the outside, the left side and chanted 3 times in my head : "Om Namah Shivaj".

I though by my self : yes, this is a nice mantra, not too long...

I knew this mantra but was never attracted to it, then i became attracted by it and marked the beginnig of a period of Divine Guidance.


Was i initiated in this way ?


I am now a Krishna devotee and chant 16 rounds a day, trying to.

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And another one :


if you have been told once that you have "an inner teacher" and you get so much guidance, like "communication on different levels", really detailed stuff, do you still need a physical Guru to become initiated or so ?

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I need to mow my lawn. Is a physically present gardener required? Why can't I just rely on the gardener in the heart? Or why can't I just read books by previous gardeners; surely that will be enough to get my lawn mowed, won't it?

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"Maya ka Fanda kitana Ganda,Hare Krsan ka naam hai Manda,

Antar kee Awaaj hui dim,bhar kee sun dhamadham dhamma,

Papa mammy Chaacha tau,dada dadi,bhauji daddaa,

Ek dukaan lagalee sabne,apana apna banayaa addaa,

Mahal Banakar ban gaye Raja,sudh rahee na kyo aaye,

Jagat kee chhalanee bahut hai moti,usmai sab na chhan paaye,

dhyaan samadhi kahaan hai kaisaa,bas money ko dhyaan kiye.

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From a 1974 lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.48:


So KRSNa, when instructs from within the heart, He is called caitya-guru. And that caitya-guru is expanded by the process, personal presentation of spiritual master. So both ways He is helping us. KRSNa is so kind. Guru-kRSNa-kRpA.
KRSNa is helping from within, but sometimes we are so dull, naturally, that we cannot understand. Therefore He sends His representative to instruct externally
. So He is helping internally and externally.




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From a 1974 lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.48:

So KRSNa, when instructs from within the heart, He is called caitya-guru. And that caitya-guru is expanded by the process, personal presentation of spiritual master. So both ways He is helping us. KRSNa is so kind. Guru-kRSNa-kRpA.
KRSNa is helping from within, but sometimes we are so dull, naturally, that we cannot understand. Therefore He sends His representative to instruct externally
. So He is helping internally and externally.




So GURU is required to get KRSNA.


KRSNA sends you GURU when you want to love Him; so he reciprocates by sending you a 'live' bhakta avatara, a manifestation of Supersoul proper. When you've gotten GURU you know for certain that you've gotten KRSNA's krpa, mercy personified.



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BG 10.10: To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.


A person may have a bona fide spiritual master and may be attached to a spiritual organization, but still, if he is not intelligent enough to make progress, then Krishna from within gives him instructions so that he may ultimately come to Him without difficulty. The qualification is that a person always engage himself in Krishna consciousness and that work should be with love. If a devotee is not intelligent enough to make progress on the path of self-realization but is sincere and devoted to the activities of devotional service, the Lord gives him a chance to make progress and ultimately attain to Him.- purport excerpt

BG 10.11: To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.


When Lord Caitanya was in Benares promulgating the chanting of HareKrishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, thousands of people were following Him. Prakasananda Sarasvati, a very influential and learned scholar in Benares at that time, derided Lord Caitanya for being a sentimentalist. Sometimes philosophers criticize the devotees because they think that most of the devotees are in the darkness of ignorance and are philosophically naive sentimentalists. Actually that is not the fact. There are very, very learned scholars who have put forward the philosophy of devotion. But even if a devotee does not take advantage of their literatures or of his spiritual master, if he is sincere in his devotional service he is helped by Krishna Himself within his heart. So the sincere devotee engaged in Krishna consciousness cannot be without knowledge. The only qualification is that one carry out devotional service in full Krishna consciousness. -purport excerpt

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Does the Guru have to be physically present?


Physical presence is immaterial. Presence of the transcendental sound received from the Spiritual Master should be the guidance of life. That will make our spiritual life successful. If you feel very strongly about my absence you may place my pictures on my sitting places and this will be source of inspiration for you.

(Letter to Brahmananda and other students, 19/1/67)


But always remember that I am always with you. As you are always thinking of me, I am always thinking of you also. Although physically we are not together, we are not separated spiritually. So we should be concerned only with this spiritual connection.

(Letter to Gaurasundara, 13/11/69)


So we should associate by vibration, and not by the physical presence. That is real association.(Lectures SB, 68/08/18)


There are two conceptions, the physical conception and the vibrational conception. The physical conception is temporary. The vibrational conception is eternal.[...] When we feel separation from Krsna or the Spirirual Master, we should just try to remember their words or instructions, and we will no longer feel that separation. Such association with Krsna and the Spiritual Master should be association by vibration not physical presence. That is real association.

(Elevation to Krsna Consciousness,(BBT 1973), Page 57)


Although according to material vision His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarsavati Thakura Prabhupada passed away from this material world on the last day of December 1936, I still consider his Divine Grace to be always present with me by his vani, his words. There are two ways of association - by vani and by vapuh. Vani means words and vapuh means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but Vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore, one must take advantage of the Vani, not the physical presence.

(CC, Antya 5 Conclusion)


Therefore we should take advantage of the Vani, not the physical presence.

(Letter to Suci Devi Dasi, 4/11/75)


I shall remain your personal guidance, physically present or not physically present, as I am getting guidance from my Guru Maharaja.

(Room Conversation, Vrindavan, 14/7/77)


It is sometimes misunderstood that if one has to associate with persons engaged in devotional service, he will not be able to solve the economic problem. To answer this argument, it is described here that one has to associate with liberated persons not directly, physically, but by understanding, through philosophy and logic, the problems of life.

(SB 3:31:48)


I am always with you. Never mind if I am physically absent.

(Letter to Jayananda, 16/9/67)

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Those are nice quotes - did you recognize the fact that they are all directed at his disciples who he PERSONALLY accepted? The connection between Guru and disciple is two way - it is personal. Of course the instruction is all in all and we should make every effort to follow those instructions including taking shelter of a bona fide spiritual master.


Intention is everything. Our connection with Krsna is established through the via medium of his dear servant whose has feeling for him. Through that advanced vaishnava's connection with Krsna and his feeling for his disciples, Krsna takes note of the sadhaka even in the beginning stages of sadhana bhakti.


This 'religion' is all about personalism, not impersonalism - it is about relationships and reciprocal love.


Why would any serious aspiring vaishnava not want to establish a personal relationship with an advanced vaishnava and give their heart to them? That is the eternally established process - Krsna accepts us through our acceptance of his devotee and his devotee's acceptance of us.

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Mercy train: Paramatma --> atma --> intelligence --> mind --> senses



From The Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti:


We should try to avoid the ten offenses in chanting the holy name, but anyone who chants Hare KRSNa sincerely is purified. Ceto-darpaNa-mArjanaM bhava-mahA-dAvAgni-nirvApaNam [Cc. Antya 20.12] (SikSASTaka 1). This is the easiest process by which the mirror of the mind can be cleansed. If KRSNa sees that someone is sincerely chanting Hare KRSNa, He will help. He is within everyone, and He can understand whether one is sincere or not.
KRSNa helps a sincere devotee internally and externally. Internally He helps as paramAtmA by giving intelligence from within. DadAmi buddhi-yogaM tam
. Externally He helps as His representative, the spiritual master. Therefore Caitanya MahAprabhu says: guru-kRSNa-prasAde pAya bhakti-latA-bIja. "By the grace of KRSNa, one gets a bona fide guru, and by the grace of the guru, one gets KRSNa." (Cc. Madhya 19.151) Thus the zAstras have given us a very easy way to appreciate our transcendental life. That is the KRSNa consciousness movement.




1972 lecture portion:


By your endeavor you cannot see the sun at night. But when the sun rises in the morning, you can see. That is the process. Similarly, you cannot understand God by your mental speculation. You have to submit yourself. As KRSNa says, that sarva-dharmAn parityajya mAm ekaM zaraNaM vraja [bg. 18.66]. Then He will reveal Himself, sevonmukhe hi jihvAdau svayam eva sphuraty adaH. He'll reveal yourself. He is within yourself. IzvaraH sarva-bhUtAnAM hRd-deze 'rjuna tiSThati [bg. 18.61].
Izvara, the Supreme Lord, is situated as ParamAtmA in everyone's heart. But if you become submissive, teSAM satata-yuktAnAM bhajatAM prIti-pUrvakam [bg. 10.10]. Those who are cent percent engaged in the loving service of the Lord, buddhi-yogaM dadAmi tam, He speaks from within. Then you can understand. He comes out, He exhibits Himself, manifests Himself the spiritual master, as spiritual master. KRSNa is trying to help you from within, from without
. EvaM paramparA prAptam [bg. 4.2]. You take advantage of it. From within, He, as ParamAtmA, caitya-guru, He'll help you. buddhi-yogaM dadAmi tam. And from without, as spiritual master, He'll give you instructions from the zAstra, from the Bhagavad-gItA. The Bhagavad-gItA is spoken by KRSNa, and the KRSNa's representative, KRSNa's manifestation, the spiritual master, will rightly inform you. That is the position.




When the intelligence is controlled by Krsna (Paramatma's blessing of buddhi-yogam) just like the Gita cover, it's all good, as explained in CC Madhya 11.37:


rAya kahe, caraNa----ratha, hRdaya----sArathi

yAhAG laJA yAya, tAhAG yAya jIva-rathI


rAya kahe--RAmAnanda RAya replied; caraNa--the legs; ratha--chariot; hRdaya--the heart; sArathi--chariot driver; yAhAG--wherever; laJA--taking; yAya--goes; tAhAG--there; yAya--goes; jIva-rathI--the living entity on the chariot.

RAmAnanda RAya said, "The legs are like the chariot, and the heart is like the charioteer. Wherever the heart takes the living entity, the living entity is obliged to go."




In the Bhagavad-gItA (18.61) Lord KRSNa explains:



IzvaraH sarva-bhUtAnAM hRd-deze 'rjuna tiSThati

bhrAmayan sarva-bhUtAni yantrArUDhAni mAyayA



"The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine made of material energy."



Thus the living entity wanders within this universe riding upon a chariot (the body) bestowed by material nature. A similar explanation is given in the KaTha UpaniSad (1.3.3–4):



AtmAnaM rathinaM viddhi zarIraM ratham eva tu

buddhiM tu sArathiM viddhi manaH pragraham eva ca

indriyANi hayAn Ahur viSayAMs teSu gocarAn

Atmendriya-mano-yuktaM bhoktety Ahur manISiNaH



Here it is said that the living entity is the passenger riding in the chariot of the body, which is offered by material nature. The intelligence is the charioteer, the mind constitutes the reins controlling the horses, and the senses are the horses. Thus the living entity is the false enjoyer of the material world.



One who is advanced in KRSNa consciousness can control the mind and intelligence and in this way rein in the horses, the senses, even though they are very powerful. One who can control the senses by his mind and intelligence can very easily approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or ViSNu, who is the ultimate goal of life. Tad viSNoH paramaM padaM sadA pazyanti sUrayaH. Those who are actually advanced approach Lord ViSNu, their ultimate goal. Such people are never captivated by Lord ViSNu's external energy, the material world.





From a 1944 Back to Godhead Magazine:


A well settled devotee of Godhead cannot continue to be a vicious man because his cent percent engagement in the service of the Lord will make him automatically a saintly person by the Grace of the Supreme. The Supreme Lord, who is living with every individual living being—will act as his Chailha Guru or the Spiritual Master from within and give him (the devotee) direction so that he may go Back to Godhead. There are thousands and thousands of instructive stories of the nature in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas which are all supplementary to the Vedas. To be cent percent engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord is the real process of sense-control. Vices are seated on the senses. The different senses of a man are different strategic positions of the enemy Vice which takes us to the miseries of life. The Karmis or the fruitive workers who have been described as the Mudhas or the foolish ignorant, is cent percent engaged in the matter of sense-gratification. Because the citadel of Vices, with its soldiers of the name desire, anger and avarice, is the sense-gratification means to follow the dictation of Mr. Vice. The Jnanis or the mental speculative philosophers are thousand times better than the Karmis because they can understand the real position of sense gratification and try to employ senses in a subtle form restraining the gross activities of the senses. By this action of Mr. Vice becomes surrounded and he is stopped for the time being. The Yogins want to control the senses or make direct attack on Mr. Vice and therefore the Yogins are thousand times better than the Jnanis; the Muktas or the liberated souls are still thousand times better than the Jnanis and Yogins for the Muktas are completely free from the attack of Mr. Vice. And above the Muktas are situated pure Bhaktas who not only drive away Mr. Vice from the citadels of senses but also engage the seat for occupation of the Supreme Lord. The king of the senses is the master Mind.
Senses are like the horses while the mind is the coachman who directs the senses. The Bhaktas therefore first of all depose Mr. Vice the Coachman from the seat of Mind and place the lotus feet of Shri Krishna on that coach. When Shri Krishna becomes the coachman of the chariot of Arjuna, there is no more fear of the attack of Mr. Vice called by the name Dhuryodhana. The Bhagwat Geeta is therefore concluded like this—[bg. 18.78]



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The Guru is alive/present in 3 dimensions(as well as the 4th spiritual dimension) who I can reciprocate with and ultimately receive direct,specific and personal instruction according to my guna and karma and my spiritual eligibility just like Arjuna received from KRSNA Himself. Otherwise I will forever remain an impersonalist (and/or a coververd rtvik who thinks he can simply read Prabhupada's books to get everything).:pray:

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Srimad Bhagavatam 1.19.31

The sage Sri Sukadeva Gosvami sat perfectly pacified, intelligent and ready to answer any question without hesitation. The great devotee, Maharaja Pariksit, approached him, offered his respects by bowing before him, and politely inquired with sweet words and folded hands.





Insight by Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhpada


The gesture now adopted by Maharaja Pariksit of questioning a master is quite befitting in terms of scriptural injunctions. The scriptural injunction is that one should humbly approach a spiritual master to understand the transcendental science. Maharaja Pariksitit was now prepared for meeting his death, and within the very short time of seven days he was to know the process of entering the kingdom of God. In such important cases, one is required to approach a spiritual master. There is no necessity of approaching a spiritual master unless one is in need of solving the problems of life. One who does not know how to put questions before the spiritual master has no business seeing him. And the qualification of the spiritual master is perfectly manifested in the person of Sukadeva Gosvami. Both the spiritual master and the disciple, namely Sri Sukadeva Gosvami and , Maharaja Pariksit attained perfection through the medium of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Sukadeva Gosvami learned Srimad-Bhagavatam from his father, Vyasadeva, but he had no chance to recite it. In the presence of King Pariksit he recited Srimad-Bhagavatam and answered the questions asked of him unhesitatingly, and thus both the master and the disciple got salvation.



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A person in full Krishna Consciousness acts by the dictation of Krishna. In the beginning of Krishna Consciousness this dictation is received through the transparent medium of spiritual master. When one is sufficiently trained and acts in submissive faith and love for Krishna, under the direction of the bonafide spiritual master, the dovetailing process becomes more firm and accurate. At this stage of the devotee in Krishna Consciousness, Krishna dictates from within. From without the devotee is helped by the spiritual master, the bonafide representative of Krishna, and from within He helps the devotee as Chaitya Guru because He is seated within the heart of everyone.:pray:


- Srila Prabhupada Essay 1960 , "World Pacifist and Bhagavad gita"

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BTGPY26b: Chaitanya Charitamrita

Chaitanya Charitamrita


(First Part continued from issue XXI)

Etabad eba jijnasyam tatwa jijnasma atmanah.

Adwaya vaterek vyam yat syat sarbatra sarbada. (56)

(Bhag: 2.9.35).

"A person who is interested in the matter of transcendental knowledge must therefore enquire into it directly and indirectly always in order to know truth which is all pervading."

Chintamani jayati soma giri gurur me.

Siksha guru cha bhagawan sikhipinchha mouli.

Yatpada kalpataru pallava shekhanshu

-swayabara rasam labhate joyashree. (57)

(Krishna Karunamrita of Villamangal).

"All glory unto my spiritual master who is as good as Chintamani (the Lord). And all glory to the Personality of Godhead decorated with the peacock feather. Under the shade of His Lotus feet which is the desire tree, Jayashree or Radharani is enjoying the transcendental mellow of eternal consorthood."

Jive sakshat nahi tate chaitya guru rupe.

Siksha guru hai Krishna Mahanta swarupe. (58)

Nobody can visually experience the presence of the super soul. He therefore appears before us as the liberated soul; such spiritual master is no other than Krishna Himself.

Tato duhsangam utariyya satsu sajjeta buddhiman

Santa eba asya chhindanti manavyasanga uktivi. (59)

(Bhag: 11.26.26).

One should therefore forsake the evil company of persona non grata, if he is intelligent enough. And after that one must associate himself with devotees or sadhus only. Such sadhu can, by their realised instruction, cut off the link of connection which is against the principle of devotional service."

Satam prasangat mama virya sambida

Bhavanti hritkama rasayana katha.

Tajjoshanad asu apabarga bartmani

Sraddharati bhakti rati anu kranuryati. (60)

(Bhag: 3.25.22).

"The message of Godhead which are spiritually powerful can be well discussed in the society of Sadhus only. They are very much pleasing to hear in that association. If anyone tries to hear from such persons, thus very soon the way of transcendental experience becomes open to him and gradually he attains a taste in such knowledge developing into devotion and attraction in due course."

Iswar swarup bhakta tar adhisthan

Bhakter hridaye krishner satata vishram. (61)

A pure devotee who is constantly engaged in the loving service of the Lord is identical with Lord. Because the Lord is always seated in the heart of a devotee, a bhakta and bhagwan is identical also.

Sadhabo hridayam mahyam sadhunam hridayantwaham.

Mad annat te na jananti na aham tevyo monag apee. (62)

(Bhag: 9.4.61).

"Saints are my heart and only I am their heart. They do not know anybody else than myself and therefore also do not recognize as mine besides the saints."

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Those are nice quotes - did you recognize the fact that they are all directed at his disciples who he PERSONALLY accepted?



Sorry Prabhu you are very wrong. Actually Prabhupada NEVER EVEN MET a majority of disciples who were initiated via Temple Presidents or Sanyasi's on behalf of Prabhupada.


Are you trying to imply that Prabhupada had a close relationship with all his disciples and PERSONALLY decided if that devotee was ready for initiation???? That is simply untrue, as Prabhupada said that TP's and Sanyasis could recommend anyone for initiation as long as they are chanting 16 rounds and following the four regs.


Prabhu no disrespect but I find it shocking that you are willing to misinterpret or even contradict very clear instructions by Prabhupada (that I quoted) on this matter just because it goes againced your false speculation that a the Guru must be physically present.

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This again.:puke:


Did you notice that the quotes were on general siddhanta and not directed towards particulars in those disciples lives?


That my friend is speculation of the highest degree.


Prabhupada said time and time again that the Guru does not have to be physically present. This contradicts your false concocted notion that the Guru must be physically present. Then you have to claim (as these quotes prove you wrong) that they are not to be understood universally but are only on general siddhanta.


That is cheating.

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This again.:puke:


Did you notice that the quotes were on general siddhanta and not directed towards particulars in those disciples lives?


Sorry theist please ignor my last comment I misinterpreted what you was saying. You were obviously rebutting guestisimo when he claimed that Prabhupada's quotes were only directed at certain disciples.

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To put an end to this once and for all.


If the 'physical presence' of the Spiritual Master is required for the disciple to make spiritual advancement and ultimately to go back to Godhead then this would be the result....


every Prabhupada disciple would not have made any spiritual advancement for the last 30 years and will not be able to go back to Godhead AS PRABHUPADA HAS NOT BEEN ON THIS PLANET AND PHYSIALLY PRESENT FOR THE LAST THREE DECADES!!


Obviously the idea that the Guru must be physically present is nonsense as the above scenario proves.

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